Community Leaders, Bill McKibben, Call on TVA to Stop Gas Buildout Ahead of Nashville Board Meeting

May 9, 2024
Contact: Dan Radmacher, Media Specialist, (540) 798-6683, [email protected]

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Community members from across Tennessee, along with renowned environmentalist Bill McKibben, showed up to the TVA Board of Directors’ listening session on Wednesday. From rural Cheatham County to the city of Memphis, speakers urged TVA to abandon their plans to build costly, polluting gas plants and pipelines throughout the region.

A livestream of the listening session can be viewed on the Clean Up TVA Coalition’s X (formerly Twitter) account. Some traveled over six hours to speak to the board, but TVA cut off the meeting before they were called up to speak.

Outside of the session, members of Third Act Tennessee demonstrated with walkers and signs to demand TVA “Pass on Gas” and transition to renewable energy, a demand echoed by other community leaders.

Members of Third Act Tennessee, part of a national movement of older Americans taking climate action, hold up signs from their demonstration outside of the TVA board’s listening session in Nashville. Photo by Gaby Sarri-Tobar

“We do not want TVA to continue to sacrifice our communities with more dirty fossil fuels,” said Tennessee State Rep. Justin J. Pearson. “When TVA says they want to sacrifice our communities to decades of dirty gas, we say no way! Fossil fuels are poisoning the air and water and inflating utility costs that send families into energy poverty, especially in Memphis. Our communities deserve so much more than this, and it’s well past time that TVA leaders champion a just and equitable transition to a clean, affordable renewable energy future. Lives in the Tennessee Valley depend on it.”

Last month, TVA approved the construction of the massive Kingston gas plant and 122-mile-long Ridgeline gas pipeline. The federal utility is expected to release plans for the construction of two new gas plants in Memphis and Cheatham County, Tennessee, in the coming weeks.

“The proposed gas plant buildouts and pipeline expansions from TVA in Cheatham County and throughout Tennessee are a direct threat to farming communities that have been sustainably cohabiting this land for generations,” said Will Halsey of Cheatham County. “If we don’t stand up for the land and its caretakers against rampant and irresponsible industrial expansion, we will learn too late what we allowed to be sacrificed for ‘progress’.”

“TVA is moving forward with the largest gas build out by 2028 of any utility in the country under an out-of-date IRP [Integrated Resource Plan],” said Maggie Shober, Research Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Does the world, let alone the electric sector, look anything like we thought it would in 2019? Telling us that the 2019 IRP is still valid erodes trust. These gas plants will drive TVA’s debt toward its debt ceiling, increase customer bills, are unreliable in cold weather and do not meet EPA regulations. Several recent reports show a clear path forward without the need for new gas to meet load growth.”

Dr. Sabrina Buer, Co-Director of the American Indian Movement (AIM) Indian Territory Tennessee, said, “American Indian peoples across Turtle Island know that we do not own the Earth: We are simply stewards who are charged with making decisions today that will preserve and protect the Earth for our children seven generations from now. We cannot allow these corporations to continue to destroy our air, water, and sacred sites, and I applaud those who are standing together to fight this assault on our communities. We must do better.”

The Rally for the Valley, a community-led concert and rally that was scheduled to take place after the listening session, was postponed due to severe weather risk.

Bill McKibben, members of the Clean Up TVA Coalition and grassroots groups fighting TVA’s gas buildout stand gathered outside of Lipscomb University in Nashville. Photo by Emily Sherwood

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a member of the Clean Up TVA coalition, which is working to propel TVA into a just, equitable, and fossil-fuel-free energy future by 2035. Learn more at